Filing a Wage and Hour Claim - Illinois
Under Illinois law, employers must pay employees at a rate of one and one-half the employee’s regular hourly wage for working more than 40 hours in one week.
Some employees are exempt from the overtime requirement. Employees engaged in administrative, executive, professional, outside sales or agricultural activities are exempt from the overtime requirement. Additionally, the following employees are exempt from the overtime requirement:
- Salesmen and mechanics involved in selling or servicing cars, trucks or farm implements at dealerships
- Government employees
- Radio or television station employees in certain cities
- Participants in work place exchange agreements
- Educational or residential child care institution employees
- Commissioned employees
The current minimum wage in Illinois is $8.25 per hour. Employees under the age of 18 may be paid 50 cents less per hour, currently $7.75 per hour. Employees who do not receive tips may be paid $7.75 for their first 90 days with their employer.
Generally, employers cannot use other costs of employment to decrease the minimum wage required. Employers cannot decrease the minimum wage by the cost to provide and maintain uniforms. Employers, however, can use tips and gratuities to reduce the minimum wage required to $4.95 per hour. For employees under the age of 18, as well as those in the first 90 days with a new employer, the tipped minimum wage is $4.65. Employers can also reduce the minimum wage by the cost of meals and lodging if the employee receives them and the employer customarily provides them.
The following employees are exempt from the minimum wage requirement:
- Certain agricultural employees
- Employees of employers with fewer than four employees
- Domestic service workers
- Outside salespeople
- Certain religious employees
- Work-study students
- Motor carrier employees
- Camp counselors
Both the City of Chicago and Cook County have separate minimum wages higher than Illinois’ minimum of $8.25.
Chicago, Illinois has a minimum wage of $12.00 per hour for non-tipped employees as of July 1, 2018 which increases to $13.00 per hour in July 2019. The minimum wage for employees who receive gratuities is $6.25 per hour. The tipped minimum wage may also increase in July 2019 but has not been verified yet. This minimum applies to employees who work two hours in any two-week period in the City of Chicago. Employers can still pay employees under 18 and employees in the first 90 days of employment 50 cents less. Exemptions include some government-funded positions, and businesses with three or fewer employees.
Cook County, Illinois has a minimum wage of $11.00 per hour for non-tipped employees as of July 1, 2018, which increases to $12.00 per hour in July 2019. The minimum wage for employees who receive gratuities is $5.10 per hour. The tipped minimum wage may also increase in July 2019 but has not been verified yet. The Cook County minimum wage rate does not apply to employees under 18 or employees in the first 90 days of employment, both of whom must still be paid at least $7.75 under Illinois law. However, day laborers (such as temporary or seasonal workers) must still be paid the Cook County minimum wage rate.
Illinois has a meal break requirement, but no rest break requirements. Employees must be given a 20 minute unpaid meal break if they are working 7.5 hours or longer. The meal break must occur no later than five hours into the shift.
You can file a claim with the wage claims division of the Illinois Department of Labor. This can be done by filling out a Minimum Wage and Overtime Claim Application. (Aplicación en Español.) The filing should include as much information and documentation as possible. Filing a wage claim in Illinois can be completed with or without an attorney.
For information about filing a minimum wage claim with the City of Chicago, see the Minimum Wage Enforcement Process Overview and the form for a complaint affidavit. To learn how to file a claim with Cook County, see File a Complaint for a Violation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance.
If you have a wage/hour complaint for the state of Illinois, do not delay in contacting the Department of Labor to file a claim. There are strict time limits in which wage claims must be filed. In order for the agency to act on your behalf, you must file the complaint within one years from the date that the claim arose. In order to file a private lawsuit, however, you must file the complaint within in three years.
As you might have other legal claims with shorter deadlines, do not wait to file your claim until your time limit is close to expiring. You may wish to consult with an attorney prior to filing your claim, if possible. Yet if you are unable to find an attorney who will assist you, it is not necessary to have an attorney to file your claim.
In Illinois, an employee can file a private lawsuit to recover unpaid wages, penalties, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and costs.
Illinois Department of Labor
160 North La Salle
Chicago, IL 60601-3150
Illinois Department of Labor
900 South Spring Street
Springfield, Il. 62704
Phone (Fair Labor Standards): (312) 793-2804
Government Inquiries Outside the Department of Labor:
Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
(866) 352-3033 (toll-free in Illinois)